New Zealand Law Society - Online retailers must adhere to Acts warns Commerce Commission

Online retailers must adhere to Acts warns Commerce Commission

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The Commerce Commission is receiving a “significant increase” in consumer complaints about retailers selling online during the lockdown.

It says complaints include traders advertising goods that are no longer available, claims about delivery timeframes that are not being met, cancelled orders, general frustration about lack of communication and extensive delays in getting a refund, processing orders and receiving goods.

And it warns that all traders must adhere to the Fair Trading Act and Consumer Guarantees Act when selling goods and services in New Zealand regardless of the method of sale.

“Many retailers have had a rush of sales through their existing websites and apps while others have set up online purchasing for the first time,” says Commission Chair Anna Rawlings.

“We recognise that both retailers and consumers are facing challenging times as a result of COVID-19 restrictions but the online marketplace is not a free-for-all where anything goes. The same rules prohibiting misleading conduct that apply to physical stores also apply to online retail.

“It is important that retailers have good systems in place to manage stock and their website so that they don’t mislead consumers by continuing to advertise and sell items online that are no longer available or are unable to be delivered within a specified timeframe. In the event that they do sell something they can no longer provide, they need to provide a refund to the consumer in a reasonable timeframe,” she says.